Warriors down Mavericks 112-97 for eighth straight win

Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson (11) shoots over Dallas Mavericks’ Harrison Barnes (40) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By: Ana Kieu

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors won their eighth straight game after downing the Dallas Mavericks 112-97 at Oracle Arena Thursday night.

This was a rather lopsided matchup as the Warriors entered the game in second place with a seven-game win streak, trailing the first-place Rockets with a gigantic 11-game win streak, while the Mavericks came in as a second-to-last team in hopes of a two-game win streak.

Both the Dubs and Mavs were focused before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff in Oakland.

Mavs point guard J.J. Barea picked up where he left off. Barea had nine points and three assists in 14 minutes in the Mavs’ 105-96 win over the Nets on March 10, 2017. Barea suffered a strained right calf and a left calf strain, respectively.

The Dubs trailed by Mavs by four (28-24) at the end of the first quarter.

As expected, Klay Thompson played like a Splash Brother in the second quarter. The Dubs then went on a 9-0 run and tied the game at 48 apiece to end the first half. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 17 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Thompson scored 11 points. Omri Casspi had seven points and seven rebounds. Jordan Bell had five assists, four points and four rebounds. Shaun Livingston had six points.

The Dubs and Mavs fought hard to start the second half.

Dirk Nowitzki connected on a three-point shot from downtown to put the Mavs ahead 51-48 with 5:42 left in the third quarter.

Casspi, Durant and Livingston put on the pressure on the rim. Durant drained a jumper to tie the game at 61 and helped the Dubs regain the lead. Casspi had a season-high 14 points (6-of-7 field goals). Casspi also scored in double figures for the seventh time this season.

The Dubs led the Mavs 80-73 at the end of the third quarter.

Casspi, Thompson, Andre Iguodala and David West put in work for the Dubs in the fourth quarter. Thompson was on fire, just take a look at the tweet below.

The Dubs overcame a slight deficit and ended up defeating the Mavs 112-97 at home. Durant led all scorers with 36 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. Thompson scored 25 points and five assists. Casspi had 17 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two assists. Bell had eight assists, eight points and six rebounds. West had nine points, three rebounds and three assists. Livingston had eight points.

Notes
Dubs’ injury update:¬†Draymond Green (right shoulder soreness), Zaza Pachulia (left shoulder soreness) and Nick Young (concussion) are out for tonight’s game vs. Mavs.

Dubs’ starting lineup: Durant, Casspi, Bell, Thompson and Livingston.

Mavs’ starting lineup: Nowitzki, Matthews, Barnes, Kleber and Ferrell.

Before the game vs. Dubs, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said: “Transition defense is the biggest thing. We‚Äôve got to take away threes, we‚Äôve got to rebound and we‚Äôve got to take care of the ball.”

Up Next
The Dubs visit the Lakers on Monday, December 18 at 7:30 pm PST.

The Mavs visit the Spurs on Saturday, December 16 at 7:30 pm CST.

Cal Bears Mens Basketball Podcast: Morris Phillips and Michael Duca discuss Cal’s shocking win at San Diego State

Photo credit: San Diego Union Tribune

On the Cal Men’s basketball podcast with Morris & Michael:

The Cal Bears in their last contest at San Deigo State University last Saturday led for most of that game in which Cal won it 62-61 and the game with Central Arkansas that was played on Wednesday, December 6th at Cal in which Central Arkansas won by a convincing margin 96-69. Central Arkansas did catch UCLA coming back from China with the shoplifting incident and took them to overtime in Pauley Pavilion and lost 106-101.

You have to consider them capable even when their not playing Cal, but on Cal’s part, they went to San Diego and won, led most of the game and put up with boisterous Viejas Arena. The¬†Bears own offense efficiency so far this year is really surprising the one thing that wasn’t surprising that happened on Saturday in San Diego and the Bears were able to put up that 13 point lead with 13 minutes to go in the game. Things got really tough for them and they went 12 full minutes and scored five points and only rescued themselves by scoring the last five points of the game.

Cal host Cal State Fullerton Saturday at 1:00PM at Haas Pavilion.

Morris does the Cal Bears basketball podcast each Monday and then Tuesday nights with Michael Duca at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal puts itself back into NCAA consideration with win over Utah in Pac-12 quarterfinals

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By Morris Phillips

Cal’s end to the regular season won’t be a disaster.

But two consecutive wins can’t accomplish what three can, meaning Cal’s NCAA quest needs one more big step Friday night against Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinals.

While the Bears’ 21st win carries a bit of weight, as does their about face performance against Utah, their 1-7 record against Top 50 competition is ghastly, the worst such record among those teams under the closest scrutiny by the NCAA selection committee.

The third meeting of the season with the Ducks in the tourney semis will be Cal’s final opportunity to get over the hump. Win, and the Bears could go dancing after all. ¬†Lose, and it’s off to the NIT.

“We lost a tough one at home to them,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. ¬†“We didn’t play as well at their place. Lost a tough one at our place. ¬†It took a lot out of us as a team because we felt we had that one. For us, we know the game plan. We understand the task at hand and what we have to do.”

And how critical it will be for the Pac-12’s top defensive team to score against the second highest scoring team, Oregon, which is averaging 17 points more than what Cal typically allows.

Against fourth-seeded Utah, the Bears broke open a tie game at the half by making their first nine shots after halftime. They extended their lead to 10 on Jabari Bird’s three with 8:54 remaining. Bird would make four threes against Utah and led all scorers with 26 points.

Cal still lead by 11 with 2:17 remaining when Utah made its move, slicing the lead to one with 26 seconds left. But the Bears held on, getting five of Bird’s 26 points in those final seconds to hold on, 78-75.

Cal gives a better showing in win over OSU, need to play even better against next opponent Utah

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By Morris Phillips

If the Cal Bears’ effort on Wednesday afternoon was akin to a roaring crowd trying to exhort their favorite band to leave their comfy, dressing room for one more encore, then the Bears prevented the house lights from being turned on–signaling the end of the concert–but weren’t nearly demonstrative enough to get the band back on stage for a couple more songs either.

After slipping past twelfth-seeded Oregon St. 67-62, the Bears could claim they were loud, but going forward, probably not loud enough.

Jabari Bird led Cal with 20 points, Ivan Rabb added 12 points, ¬†13 rebounds and the Bears never trailed after the game’s first 10 minutes, but had their collective nerves exposed as the Beavers sliced their lead to four in the final minutes. The Bears held on, but a one-game win streak isn’t the three wins in three days they need to crash the NCAA tournament party.

On Thursday,  the Bears take on fourth-seeded Utah with the winner getting a shot at top-seeded Oregon on Friday.  In order to mask five losses in the previous six games, and only one win (at USC in January) against the Top 50, Cal will need to win at least twice more to entice the NCAA selection committee.

“We knew it would be tough just finding a way to win, get the rust off us,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. ¬†“Felt like we were playing with a 15-pound vest on our backs. ¬†We found a way to get the win, and now we can move forward.”

The Bears shot just 33 percent in their two, road losses last weekend, so 40 percent shooting against OSU wasn’t a sizeable improvement. But in this one the Bears had an offensive focal point in Bird, who hit three threes, including a critical one with 54 seconds remaining.

Bird’s offense and Cal’s huge advantage in rebounding were huge on a night when Grant Mullins (2 of 8 shooting) and Charlie Moore (3 of 12) couldn’t find the mark. ¬†With Mullins and Moore struggling, Stephen Domingo stepped up with a couple of big buckets. ¬†With Domingo adding 10 points, ¬†the Bears had four, double-digit scorers in the game.

The Bears (20-11) are attempting to qualify for the Pac-12 tournament semifinals for the second straight year.

Senior night, undermanned Oregon State allow Cal to get back on track 76-46

California’s Ivan Rabb, center, and Kameron Rooks, left, guard Oregon State’s Gligorije Rakocevic (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–Ivan Rabb arrived in Berkeley two years ago amid great fanfare, the latest local phenom to sign with Cal, following Jason Kidd and Leon Powe before him.

After Cal’s much-needed Senior Night victory over Oregon State, Rabb lingered on the floor, acknowledged a few more people than normal, and shook a few more hands.

Could this have been Rabb’s swan song with the NBA beckoning? As always, the very mature Rabb chose his words carefully.

“No question, I think I have the opportunity to go or stay, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. ¬†I did take time tonight to soak in the time on the court, slap fans hands, take pictures with people and really soak in the moment. Regardless, it was our last home game. ¬†And I wanted to enjoy it,” Rabb said.

The 6’11” sophomore could have joined Jaylen Brown as an NBA draft entrant last year. And his decision to return to school may have been bigger than his decision to come in the first place. ¬†By returning, Rabb allowed Coach Cuonzo Martin to avoid an immediate dip after the surge afforded his program with the signings of Rabb and Brown. ¬†The Bears have continued to win, and the prospect of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances is within reach.

Rabb has seen his draft stock drop slightly under the weight of constant double teaming, but he couldn’t have been more consistent, with the clear majority of his 27 double-doubles coming this season. ¬†The Oakland native will undoubtedly be choosen in the first round of the NBA draft if he chooses to leave. ¬†And his contribution to the university and the athletic department can’t be questioned.

And the most gratifying part of Senior Night by far? That the speculation surrounding Rabb did not take away from the attention afforded seniors Sam Singer, Jabari Bird, Roger Moute A Bidias, Stephen Domingo and Grant Mullins.

Nor did the presence of OSU, a team with only one win since December, and with an unsightly RPI number of 293, giving them the ability to ruin Cal’s season if they could summon one unlikey, superior performance.

That slight possibility lasted only a few minutes, when OSU’s early seven-point lead was wiped out by Cal scoring 20 of the game’s next 23 points. ¬†The Bears surged again at the beginning of the second half, and cruised to a 76-46 win.

At no point did the Bears let the emotionally-draining loss to Oregon on Wednesday affect them.  Their dismantling of injury-riddled Oregon State was clearly a focused effort, one Martin noticed.

“We didn’t let the atmosphere comsume us,” Martin said. “This time of the season it’s never too late and it’s a good sign for us.”

Rabb led Cal with 16 points, and just missed another double-double with nine rebounds. Singer added 14 points, making all seven of his shots in his Haas Pavilion finale.  And the Bears exploited their size and depth with significant edges in rebounds and points in the paint.

The Bears (19-9, 10-6) stopped a three-game losing streak with the win, and kept themselves on the good side of the NCAA tournament bubble with the win. They close the regular season at Utah, and at Colorado with the goal of finishing fourth in the Pac-12 standings and earning a first round bye in the conference tournament.

That and at least one win in Las Vegas should get the Bears into the NCAA field given their accomplishments to date.

 

 

 

Cal shocked by Dillon‚Äôs last second, game winner for No. 6 Oregon

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Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, left, lays up a shot over California’s Kingsley Okoroh (22) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Oregon won 68-65. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–To truly feel the Cal Bears’ heartache after Oregon’s Dillon Brooks capped the Ducks’ furious rally from 10 points down, 7:15 remaining with a game-winning three-pointer, you must first capture OU’s mindset coming into this pivotal Pac-12 matchup.

The Ducks–a marvelous, if not unique, combo of shot blocking and offensive efficiency–arrived in Berkeley with an almost immeasurable amount less to play for than the Haas Pavilion-emboldened Bears. ¬†And that said it all, because this was undoubtedly the biggest game of Cal’s season to date.

For the Bears, it was win and their NCAA ticket was punched. ¬†For the Ducks, the most talented team from Eugene in the last 15 seasons, it was win and their Pac-12 title aspirations–and beyond–were still shimmering.

And the Ducks played as if they were pre-occupied or wounded–take your pick–until the final minutes when Oregon surged, and Cal wilted.

For Cal, probably needing one stop–or one, clutch bucket–to salt it away, this was as maddening as losing gets at the Division I level.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. ¬†“It was a very emotional locker room. ¬†It was a tough one for us.”

How tough? Oregon trailed by 14 at half, 16 early in the second half, and 10 after Cal’s Kameron Rooks missed a pair of free throws with 7:17 remaining. ¬†But Cal again squandered an early, double-digit lead, got tentative offensively down the stretch, allowing Oregon to score 24 points in the final six-and-a-half minutes to pull it out.

“They made good plays down the stretch and we didn’t,” said Jabari Bird, who led Cal with 20 points. “Brooks hit tough shots. Those last two shots he hit were tough, contested shots and you can’t be upset with that. It was just the lead up to that, with being up by 10 with three to go, we can’t squander that.”

In all, the Ducks would score 52 points after halftime, and just 16 before, missing their first seven shots from distance and allowing the Bears to open up a 20-7 lead. But the Bears wouldn’t run away and hide, needing another hot scorer to back Bird’s efforts. ¬†With less than three minutes remaining, ¬†the Ducks got three, consecutive 3-pointers to slice Cal’s lead to one. With 1:48 remaining, ¬†Oregon took their first lead of the night on a Chris Boucher layup.

Ivan Rabb would tie it with an offensive rebound and a putback for Cal with nine seconds remaining. That set the stage for Brooks’ heroics. The 6’7″ forward took the ball near midcourt, then dribbled into a contested three near the top of the circle. ¬†With Stephen Domingo in position to contest the shot, Brooks rattled it home.

“They thought they had the game and we stole it from them,” Brooks said.

“I was disappointed at halftime,” coach Dana Altman said. “I liked how the pace of the game changed. ¬†Points off of turnovers were definitely the difference in the game going 19 and six. I think increasing the pace helped a lot and took them out of their rhythm.”

The Bears fell to 18-9, 9-6, and they will conclude the regular season with a 1-6 record against ranked opponents, with the only win at USC in January. ¬†Friday’s game against Oregon State won’t take the sting out of Wednesday’s loss, but the Bears must be ready because another misstep against OSU would be an unforgivable, bad loss.

“I`m not a part of that committee,” Martin said. ¬†“I think we’re an NCAA tournament team but we still have work to do.”

Rabb finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and Kameron Rooks contributed 10 points, five rebounds.   

Brooks led Oregon (25-4, 14-2) with 22 points, Boucher had 18.

 

 

Bears battle No. 9 Arizona to a standstill before falling 62-57 in Pac-12 showdown

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Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (35) drives between California guard Stephen Domingo (31) and Ivan Rabb (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona defeated California 62-57. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

By Morris Phillips

The intensity of the Pac-12 best homecourt environment was present as always on Saturday night at the McKale Center, but Coach Cuonzo Martin was more than capable as a counterpoint, stalking the sideline with an intent and proximity that the players–and referees–couldn’t help but notice.

This was a unmistakably, big game and likely the Cal Bears’ surest path to an NCAA tournament invite. ¬†Martin‚Äôs team played as if their was something significant to gain, but this time, No. 9 Arizona was just as intent to send the Bears home empty-handed.

“They scored 57 points. Let’s start there,” Arizona coach Sean Miller recounted when asked if his Wildcats got his message regarding defensive intensity. “They had 11 turnovers. They shot 43 percent from the field, 31 percent from 3. Shot only 12 free throws against what I think is one of the best frontcourt players in the country in Ivan Rabb. ¬†We did an excellent job of our post trap. Our effort level, our defensive rebounding–we gave Cal four, second shots so of course I’m very, very happy with our defense.”

What Miller aptly recalled may have been his Wildcats best defensive effort of the season.  But it was entirely needed against a Cal team that was as good at both ends minus a couple of timely made shots.  That Cal operated without foul-hampered Rabb for most of the first half, then without point guard Charlie Moore for the entire second half illustrated how close the Bears were to picking up their most significant win of the season.

In fact, the Bears may regret their slow start (three turnovers, one missed shot, scoreless over the game’s first three minutes) as much as their three consecutive missed shots after drawing within 55-51 with 2:22 remaining. ¬†Rabb and Moore were on the floor for the initial minutes, and Rabb also at the conclusion where he missed a tough, contested shot that would have sliced Arizona’s lead to two.

“It was a chess match and a hard-fought game,” Martin said. “They did enough to win the ball game.”

 

Cal stays hot by taking advantage of suspension-hampered Colorado

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By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–As half of the final, televised sporting event leading up to the Super Bowl, the Cal Bears drew high ratings with skillful shot making, and dominant play early.

Then with viewers tuning out upon seeing the lopsided, halftime score, the Bears pulled ’em back in by allowing Colorado to make a game of it late. ¬†That part was probably more Nielsen ratings-oriented than coach Cuonzo Martin would have preferred.

“Once (Colorado) settled in, they did something we didn’t want them to do, which was go with the smaller lineup,” Martin said after Cal’s 77-66 win. ¬†“I felt like they would always have an advantage unless we played the zone, especially with George King at the four. If they went small, we had to put one of our bigs on the bench, which isn’t necessarily a strength for us. But when we went to the zone, it worked out for us.”

With freshman Charlie Moore enjoying his best half of basketball since his breakout against UC Irvine in November, the Bears surged on Sunday, hitting nine three-pointers to forge a huge lead. Moore contributed 5 of 7 shooting from three, and the Bears grabbed their biggest lead of the afternoon, 39-16 with 3:28 remaining.

But that deficit served as a wake-up call for the Buffs, who scored 20 of the next 24 points spanning halftime to make a game of it, then getting as close as 62-57 with 3:19 left.  Colorado came in riding a three-game win streak after losing its first seven Pac-12 contests, only to find out prior to the game that head coach Tad Boyle had suspended frontcourt tandem Xavier Johnson an Wesley Gordon for some poor, undisclosed decisions following their win over Stanford on Thursday.

“Two really good kids made a bad decision,” Boyle said without disclosing the specific transgression. ¬†“We’re in the education business. These are lessons that go beyond basketball.”

So while Martin feared King and a smaller Buffs lineup, without Gordon and Johnson, King found himself matched with 6’11” Ivan Rabb, an assignment so consuming it left King with little energy on offense. ¬†Also, Cal‚Äôs zone proved effective early, causing seven of the Buffs’ nine turnovers in the first 17 minutes alone.

King finished with just seven points, and guard Dominique Collier five as Colorado failed to cover offensively for their two missing starters despite forging a huge comeback.

“We made shots to get ourselves back into it, but at certain times we had some really good looks that didn’t go in, and to come back from where we were, you really have to play a flawless second half.”

While Cal allowed Colorado‚Äôs comeback, they showed growth offensively by sharing the ball with each other, especially early. ¬†The Bears took a page out of the Warriors’ playbook with 11 assists on their first 12 made baskets. When it was over, six Bears scored at least 9 points, and none more than 17, perhaps their most, balanced effort all season.

“We expect all of our guys to play and be very effective, ¬†but it definitely helps us when everyone is able to score with the way teams defend Ivan,” Martin said. “The way teams defend against Ivan, really corralling around him, you have to be ready to step up and make a shot.”

The Bears (17-6, 8-3) remained tied with UCLA for third place in the Pac-12 with the win, their fourth straight. If their NCAA tournament strategy is to win the ones their supposed to, they did that this weekend at home against Utah and Colorado.  If their more sound strategy is to pull a noteable upset, then that opportunity comes next in Tucson on Saturday against first-place Arizona.

Either way the Bears are in the tourney mix, precariously one bad loss from being left out, or one big win from being invited.

Next up, the Bears attempt a season sweep of Arizona State on Thursday evening in Tempe.

Bears stay “locked in,” grab critical win over Utah in double OT 77-75

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By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–After seeing the score tied at 55 after regulation, and 75 in the final moments of double overtime–and ten other times on Thursday–the Cal Bears no doubt understood how evenly matched they were with their opponent, Utah in their 77-75 win.

But instead of getting caught up in how tense and tight the ballgame was, or fretting over a 14-point, first half lead that evaporated, or how big of a swing regarding their postseason hopes the outcome would hold, the Bears managed to focus in the game’s final possession, the one in which freshman Charlie Moore found senior Jabari Bird breaking backdoor for the game-winning slam dunk.

Ah, the beauty of familiarity–through countless repetitions and practices–on display in a game’s critical, final moments. ¬†Call the convergence a coach’s dream, something coach Cuonzo Martin no doubt will refer to in the season’s final weeks.

“I think our guys stayed locked in, finished the game,” Martin said when asked if his team reacted better against Utah, then they did in narrow losses to Virginia and Arizona earlier in the season. “They know how to get stops when it’s time to get stops. ¬†They know how to buckle down and do what they need to do to get stops, and make plays.”

If nothing else, Moore and Bird’s connection provided a fairly straightforward conclusion to what evolved into a complicated game of closely-matched opponents. At least in the eyes of Utah coach Larry Krystowiak it ¬†did.

“It was all penetration,” Krystowiak said. “There was two seconds to go. ¬†It was important that we stop the ball. ¬†(Moore) made a great play. Yeah, we lost him on that play.”

“Once I saw the lane open up, and guys commit to (Moore), I just cut back door and he made a great play and found me,” Bird said of the play that left just two seconds on the clock.

Ironically, it was Moore and Bird who combined for the game’s winning basket. ¬†The freshman struggled with his shooting throughout Pac-12 play while learning how to combat bigger defenders, all keyed up to stop him after word of Moore‚Äôs 38-point game against Cal Irvine became widespread knowledge. ¬†The 5’11 guard went on to lead Cal in scoring in four, subsequent non-conference games, but he hasn’t done it since over the first ten Pac-12 contests.

Meanwhile, Bird has been unstoppable, a guy who opened the season unable to play due to injury, and now has regained all of his capabilities. The 6’6″ senior has scored in double figures in ten of the previous 12 games culminating with his career-best 26 on Thursday.

If anything specific could keep this Cal Bears’ team from the NCAA tournament it would be lack of offense, and that seems less likely with Bird and Moore simultaneously operating at a high level. ¬†Moore contributed 17 points, seven assists against the Utes, and drew high praise from Martin for his patience, and trusting his playmaking on the game’s final play. ¬†While Moore has scored in double figures in four of the five, most recent games, it’s the emergence of his overall game that’s drawn notice.

With eight regular season games remaining, the Bears (16-6, 7-3) are tied for third with UCLA, behind conference leaders Oregon and Arizona who meet this weekend in Eugene.  Staying in the top four is paramount not only for favorable seeding in the conference tournament in Las Vegas, but also for the likelihood the NCAA committee would invite at least four Pac-12 teams to March Madness.

Cal has the jump on USC and Utah in that regard with wins over both, if not a win over any of the conference leaders, which would be the greater deal changer. ¬† Winning the games they’re supposed to win also has a great cache, and that process continues Sunday afternoon when Cal and Colorado draw the assignment as the televised lead-in to the Super Bowl.

On Thursday,  the Buffs outlasted Stanford, 81-74 at Maples Pavilion,  just their third Pac-12 victory thus far.

 

 

Winning ugly: Cal doesn’t let poor shooting prevent a win against WSU

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By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–A few things transpired on the way to Jabari Bird becoming the 47th Golden Bear to score 1,000 points in his career.

Six, consecutive missed shots, a whole bunch of angst, and–fortunately for Cal–Bird’s short memory in effect.

“He has to keep shooting because the shots were there. ¬†I don’t know if he was necessarily pressing. ¬†The shots didn’t fall,” coach Cuonzo Martin said of Bird, who found himself with an open look at a three with a minute remaining in a close game on Saturday.

Bird’s three gave Cal a four-point cushion in a low-scoring game that featured missed shots more than anything else. ¬† They would go on to beat Washington State, ¬†58-54, giving the Bears a modest, three-game win streak following three losses in the previous four games.

Cal’s season, and their post-season aspirations seemingly rest on their ability to beat teams they’re supposed to beat, and WSU provided the latest test. While markedly better than the one-conference win Cougars of last year, this group still figures in the bottom third of the Pac-12 standings.

Against Cal, WSU appeared prepared, especially in how to limit Cal offensively. Coach Ernie Kent had his Cougars focused on stopping Cal star Ivan Rabb, who didn’t score his initial basket until the game was 17 minutes in, and Cal trailed by six.

But in both halves, things swung decidedly to Cal in the final moments.

In the second half, and the score tied at 50, the Bears finished the job with a Charlie Moore layup preceding Bird’s big three with 52 seconds remaining.

Bird had missed all six shots he attempted before draining the last one. That gave Cal the cushion they needed, but also gave Bird his 1,000 career points.

“I didn’t really think of the 1000th point,” Rabb said of Bird’s feat. “I didn’t think he was really pressing for it. ¬†As soon as he made that shot, I think somebody said it and I heard it, so really congratulations to Jabari. ¬†He made it big at the end of the game, scoring big points and getting his 1000th point at the end of the game.”

The Bears improved to 4-2 in conference play with the win, which keeps them squarely among the Pac-12’s upper crust. ¬†That perch will be tested next weekend when the Bears visit Utah and Colorado.